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Fiona Hawthorne - Northern Ireland
The Arts Advocacy Award UK
  
Fiona Hawthorne
Artist - Pioneer
 
Fiona Hawthorne is the recipient of TheWIFTS Arts Advocacy Award 2016. Among a myriad of high profile achievements worldwide as an artist is her pioneering work to showcase art from children from inner city state schools at the V&A, and other Museums. Channelling the art form of music, Fiona established UFO Steelband that runs the only steelpan class in the UK for VIPs or blind and visually impaired players.

Fiona Hawthorne was born in Northern Ireland, grew up in Hong Kong, and began her career as an artist capturing life in London's Ladbroke Grove, especially the music and dance of Carnival and the young emerging jazz scene.

Living and working in London, her portraits of musicians featured in newspapers and magazines and her contribution to British street art was profiled in Thames and Hudson's book Design After Dark.

In 2012 and 2015 Fiona won two National commissions to cover a 100 meter wall in West London with her visual interpretation of Europe's largest street festival, the other to create two hundred pieces to celebrate 150 years of Portobello Market – the exhibitions were each seen by two million people.

Having her first child in 1990, Fiona realised it was going to be a challenge to paint – it was difficult to set up an easel with a toddler running around. She soon discovered the fledgling opportunities in computer art and became one of UK's foremost digital artists.

Fiona saw the liberating force and potential of computers, drawing tablets and painting software when her own children started school. She noticed art facilities diminishing due to cuts and the restraints of the national curriculum, and under the guise of ICT took digital art into the schools that lacked facilities for art rooms.

Fiona raised the funds to run many projects in inner city state schools, which touched thousands of children and led to their art being displayed in V&A, the Tate Modern and Liverpool Museum. Throughout this period Notting Hill Carnival remained a touch stone and key inspiration. Fiona designed, directed and delivered 20 years of award-winning Carnival arts projects where children's art was made central to street parade.

Fiona's love of steelpan led her to curate, produce and play in One Thousand Pans, a musical installation at London's Southbank for the closing weekend of the London 2012 Olympic Games, and to set up UFO Steelband which now runs the only steelpan class in UK for 'VIPs' or blind and visually impaired players.

Fiona's work has also graced the pages of Tatler, satirising the London Season's polo matches, the Henley Regatta and the tearooms of Harrods. She was the first artist in residence to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, culminating in a solo exhibition at The Royal Festival Hall.

Fiona's portrait of Barack Obama hangs in the Library of Congress and she is currently working on a series of paintings and a book about her time spent drawing in the infamous Walled City of Kowloon in Hong Kong.



  

 
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